Columbia, South Carolina MLS “Rules”: A Few Thoughts…

All Real Estate May Not Be Local, According To Feds…

It looks like the federal lawsuit concerning Columbia’s MLS system, received some attention today. I can sympathize with some of the thoughts of the filers of the suit. Having said this, I can also understand why some of the rules are in place. Here are a few thoughts regarding some of the bullet points in the newspaper.

1) Membership Fees: $5,000 (Now $2,500). This really doesn’t hit the day to day licensee. As I mentioned in a previous post, our dues (as licensees) are much lower than this, and we pay them quarterly.

I must say though, that MLS has an in town office that’s staffed with 3 full time employees. We enjoy state of the art technology which includes, but not limited to, full service web function, lockboxes (infared), lockbox keys (infrared), MLS key safety fobs (access to MLS is prohibited for safety purposes w/out an ever changing code).

If the MLS is charging too much, then I suppose the fees should be lowered. It seems as though the federal gov’t shouldn’t set prices, though.

I hope the safety of my sellers is not compromised, or the speed of my services suffer, because some folks think a fee is high.

2) Allowing Home Offices: I really don’t see what the big problem with this is, although I can see why it was put in place. Can a lawyer practice law at home? I don’t know. I’m know he/she can “work” at home, but I’m not sure a law firm can domicile on the kitchen table. Can a doctor? Some folks may say, “well that’s different.” Maybe, maybe not.

Any real estate practitioner can work at home. The problem is that the liability “brunt” does not lie with that salesperson. The “buck stops” with our Broker In Charge. We are simply sub agents of our broker. I would think that it’s not too much to ask for a professional business that deals with peoples escrow monies, access to every home on a market and 5 years worth of documents of tens of thousands of our neighbors information, not be asked to have a store front. It’s going to be a hum-dinger when some broker/owner has to explain to a judge, that the dog ate his files.

As I said, I can see it both ways. I don’t see how a broker domiciling at home, can have their clients best interest in mind, when they are responsible for 10-1000 licensees. Maybe they can make this rule “size sensitive.” Maybe if they have five or less licensees, they can domicile at home. Who knows…

To the lady who said, “It’s basically a huge monopoly.” Think of it like this. A non-lawyer can’t own any part of a law firm. However, this is not state law. But, in order to practice law/own a firm in South Carolina, the lawyer must be a member of The Bar Association. Well, to be a member of The must be a lawyer. Get it???

Further, in South Carolina any and all real estate transactions (including refi’s,) must be closed by a lawyer (no Title Companies allowed – see above). Want to talk about monopolies? Now, guess which state has one of the least “title problems” in the U.S. You got it…. South Carolina. The MLS is not a “monopoly.” It is a system…

The old rule of our profession was “Let the Buyer Beware.” Today it’s, “To Protect the Public.” Tomorrow the theme may be, “Let the Buyer And Seller Beware…?”


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